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Misconceptions; Bringing Light to Modification Myths

While I was in court one day, I was approached by an older polite Caribbean woman. She was seeking clarity and understanding regarding the matter that had summoned her to the courthouse. Her foreclosure case was set for trial and she was determined to save her home. I informed her that I could not give her any legal advice as I did not represent her. However, I did answer some of her questions. She was under the impression that the trial was her opportunity to tell the judge her side of the story, the personal circumstances that brought her to the world of foreclosure. She asked me what consequences she could face if things didn't go well. I informed her if she lost the trial, there could be a possibility that she could get a sale date on her property within 30 days. As expected, she looked startled, but more in an offended way as opposed to the fearful look that seizes a concerned person's face. She told me that she was not worried about her house being sold. Naturally, this caught me off guard as this is usually the main concern the majority of homeowners in this situation face. She explained to me that she lived in her home for over 25 years and had always paid on time until she lost her job last year and as a result, the bank could not take her home away. She never hired an attorney because she knew she could just work on a modification and the bank would have to give her one. After carefully analyzing the situation and guarding my words, I advised that she take this more seriously and speak to an attorney as soon as possible as the outcome may result in her losing her home.

As an active attorney in this sector of law, I often run into homeowners with unfortunate mistaken beliefs that the bank can take their home. Maybe it's extreme denial, or perhaps the lack of grasping the seriousness of the storm lurking ahead. These common misconceptions that homeowners have do often result in them making bad choices and ending up with worse outcomes. There are several important points that homeowners should keep in mind when going through the foreclosure process. Once you have defaulted on your loan, the bank may file a foreclosure action against you, assuming they perform all the required conditions precedent to the filing of the foreclosure lawsuit. It is irrelevant to the bank how long you have resided in the home. From their perspective, along with the majority of Judges, it is your obligation to keep current on your mortgage payments. Therefore, the woman's assumption, that she had lived in the home for 25 years and never missed a payment in the past 24 years, unfortunately, falls short and bears very little weight.

Next, MODIFICATIONS ARE NOT GUARANTEED! The bank has full and complete discretion on whether or not you will qualify and/or will be approved for a loan modification. This means that the judge cannot force the bank to give you one, and an attorney cannot promise or guarantee to get you approved for one either. Although it is possible that one can work on a modification on their own, many come to realize how stressful and frustrating it is having to deal with the lender and/or servicer of the loan. Also, a point of caution, you should not trust any company or third party offering assistance on your modification. There are a lot of fraudulent companies out there and it is highly recommended that you do your due diligence in researching their credibility.

To that end, my honest belief is that it is imperative for you to seek professional assistance when dealing with foreclosure matters and modifications, especially when a pending legal matter exists.

At the corner of reality & assumption,
Sonja-Lucienne Cajuste, Esq.